All bike racks are designed to safely transport your bikes from one place to another. They are really common with people who prefer trail riding and track cycling. They are convenient, safe, and can take your mountain bike to remote destinations. That being said, choosing a bike rack should be easy, right?
Unless you’re willing to take a risk at the local store, there are a few things to keep in mind. Bike racks can be attached to your roof and hitch, but portable no hitch bike racks are also an option, if your car doesn’t have a trailer hitch. These temporary bike racks can be removed and do not smear the look of your car.
Bike racks come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate different vehicles like SUVs and sedans. Not all can be interchanged and most have problems attaching to trunks with spoilers.
Choosing a bike rack comes down to a few factors, like the type of bike (MTB frames are different from road bikes or bmx bikes), your car (tailgate pads are an option for trucks), your budget and how many bikes you want to carry.
Our Favorite Product
In depth reviews are insightful, but if you’re running short on time and looking for the best option, then the Thule Gateway Pro Trunk Bike Rack is your best bet. We found this no hitch bike rack easy to use with a 6 strap tightening system that locks securely to the trunk.
The price is light on your wallet, and if you still have budget constraints, there’s a 2 bike carrying rack that’s even cheaper. Other than the tool free installation, we liked the convenience of removing it when it’s not in use, for parking in garages and tight spots where space is an issue.
More details after the comparison table.
Bike Rack for SUV Comparison Table
|Price||Brand||Model||Mount Type||Bike Capacity||Weight Cap|
|Check||Thule||Gateway Pro||Trunk Bike Rack||2-3 Bikes||70-105 lbs|
|Check||Yakima||Fullback||Trunk Bike Rack||3 Bikes||60-90 lbs|
|Check||Saris||Bones EX||Trunk Bike Rack||2-3 Bikes||70-105 lbs|
|Check||Allen Sports||Deluxe||Spare Tire Rack||2 Bikes||70 lbs|
|Check||Thule||Passage||Trunk Mount||2-3 Bikes||70-105 lbs|
|Check||Allen Sports||Ultra Compact||Trunk Mount||1-2 Bikes||35-70 lbs|
Reviews of the Best Bike Racks for SUVs
The best bike rack for SUVs will depend on what you need it for, how many bikes you want to transport at once, and what kind of vehicle you drive. The best bike racks for SUVs are those that offer you the most convenience, security, and can be mounted on the back of your vehicle without a hitch.
Here are some reviews for the best bike racks for SUVs.
Thule Gateway Pro Trunk Bike Rack – Best Overall
Thule is a renowned brand for trunk racks. They have many options for cars and trucks, but their best bike rack for SUVs is the classic Gateway Pro. It’s lightweight, and convenient to load and store.
The bike rack holds the bike from the center frame and has a maximum load capacity of 105 lbs (easy storage for 3 bikes).
- Strong aluminum build with plastic
- 6 straps that hold the rack secure to the trunk
- Foldable when not in use
- 7” spacing between bikes prevents any contact
- Inclusive cable lock that locks bike onto the rack
|Gateway Pro’s secure fit is unlike any trunk bike rack on the market||You will need extra straps to completely secure the bikes|
|A simple mounting method means easy installation||Attaching 3 bikes can burden and damage your SUV|
|Carry arms are foldable and extra straps tuck away neatly||The instruction manual is complicated for first time users|
|Included locks offer more security|
Thule Gateway Pro has a lot to offer without breaking the bank. It’s lightweight and has one of the best fits for SUVs because of the 6 tightening straps that can fit into the space between the trunk at the top, bottom or sides.
It can carry up to 3 bikes, 35 lbs each while still maintaining 7” spacing between the bikes.
What makes it the best overall, is the extra attention to detail by Thule. The bikes fit securely into the anti sway cradles that keep the bikes from scuffling and scratching any paint.
There’s a built-in cable lock that can keep your bike safe when you’re away at the gas station or parked somewhere.
You’ll also be on the road with your bikes and have the little extra reassurance of the included locks on the bike rack which can let you drive peacefully.
We were also impressed by the molded pads along the bike rack that keep the metal frame from touching the car and damaging any part of your vehicle’s paint job.
However, even though the bike is safe on the frame, there’s still room for the bottom half of the bikes to wobble around.
Yakima FullBack 3 Bike Carrier – Sturdiest Rack
FullBack 3 trunk mounted bike rack is polished, feels premium and has one of the easiest attaching guides. It has 4 straps that can hold the trunk rack to the vehicle without any problems. Yakima FullBack 3 can carry up to three bikes weighing 30 lbs each.
- Simple and easy to follow installation instructions.
- 4 sturdy straps remove the need of having extra straps.
- SKS provides extra security by locking the bikes to the trunk rack and the trunk rack to the vehicle.
- All contact points with the vehicle are thickly padded to protect paint.
|This bike rack is not flimsy.||The heavy rack makes it a two man job to install.|
|Straps through the wheels can stop them from spinning while driving.||Locking mechanism does not work with a single mounted bike.|
|It has a central hub that can adapt to different settings depending on the type of trunk||The locking mechanism does not work well when traveling with a single bike.|
|The rack is not the best for versatile frames.|
It’s a fact that hitch bike racks are the safest option for traveling with your bikes. They are secure, reliable, and can hold heavier bikes. However, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the Yakima FullBack 3 is the sturdiest SUV bike rack in the crowded list of trunk bike racks.
It weighs 23 lbs and the added weight is reflected in the stability while driving. It is sturdy at high speeds and does not shift around at the back of the vehicle. The adjustable zip strap cradles can hold mountain bikes and kids bikes of different frame thickness at the same time.
The bike rack can fit on most SUV trunks and the embedded lock works great when carrying 3 bikes. If you want to travel with something rigid and secure that does not sway during turns, this is your bike rack, but traveling with a single bike requires placing the bike at the furthest place on the rack to lock your bike which is not how you would normally carry a single bike.
There is an expensive tube top adapter that can remove any limitation to the type of bike being attached, but this should come standard with the rack. Make sure to check your bike and attachment possibilities.
Saris Bones EX – Best for Spoilers
Saris Bones EX is one of the best bike racks, simply because of its fit over vehicles. If you have an SUV with a spoiler and no hitch receiver, your only options would be roof racks.
Roof racks tend to be hard to access and impede your speed on the highway.
The Saris Bones EX is a hanging bike rack and extremely lightweight at under 13 lbs with a weight capacity of 105 lbs.
- The entire rack is made of sturdy rubber and will last years. There’s no rust or damage by weather to this trunk bike rack
- It is compatible with 90% of the vehicles on the streets. The largest compatibility of any trunk mount bike racks on the market.
- This is a sustainable product made with recyclable materials in the USA.
- At just a little above 12 lbs it has the strongest frame for a trunk mount bike rack
|The rack itself is a breeze to install and the bikes rest on the rack easily.||For the trunk mount rack, you will need a top tube adapter for curvy crossbars.|
|The entire bike rack folds when not in use minimizing cargo space.||No locking mechanism on this trunk rack.|
|Proudly made in the USA and works for all SUVs.||The cradle straps can come loose during a rough drive.|
|For a mount rack that weighs so little it is very sturdy and holds 3 bikes easily.|
|Rubber padding on the car rack doesn’t scratch the vehicle.|
Trunk mount bike racks will always have compatibility limitations with cars. Hitch mount bike racks are the most compatible because a platform bike rack can attach to any hitch receiver.
The Saris Bones EX is a hanging bike rack that shares nearly the same compatibility as any other bike hitch rack. The Bones EX has an arched mounting rack that allows multiple bikes of different frames to be carried at different levels.
6.5” of spacing is decent for an arched hanging rack, but pedals will be caught in the rear wheel of another bike. We also struggled carrying 3 mountain bikes because of less space.
During our testing, the bikes did not scuffle because of the three anti-sway straps that lock onto the top tube, and the seat post.
Mounting bikes on the Saris Bones EX is simple, but you might find it tricky or incompatible with women and kids bikes because of the smaller size. You can get a top tube adapter to fix this easily.
Unfortunately, there’s no locking mechanism that secures the bikes to the trunk rack or to the vehicle so you might have to invest in extra locks. Anti-sway rubber straps work great, but the bike rack became loose while driving. Something that may turn you away from this rack.
Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Spare Tire Rack – Best for Jeeps
Many people buy a car bike rack so they can travel with their bikes through the mountains and access trails normally cut off from hobbyist cyclists. The vehicle of choice for most of these journeys is a jeep. With a spare tire and a flat trunk, your options for bike racks are already limited.
Although roof racks seem like a good option compared to hitch racks, the extra height and expense is not worth the travel at steep inclines or through hanging obstacles.
Allen sports deluxe trunk bike rack is a hitchless bike rack for carrying two bikes on a jeep.
- The design is patented and carries the bikes clear from any obstacles, road, mud and hot exhaust
- Almost all weight is supported by the spare tire protecting the rim.
- The deluxe 2 bike rack does not interfere with accessing the trunk or any rear cameras
|At just under 10 lbs it has the best strength to weight ratio.||Tailgate access is blocked and rear lights are covered in some cases.|
|The installation takes less than 5 minutes.||Rack sways during off road drives.|
|The cords are long enough for an oversized spare tire.|
|There’s a design specifically made for the Wrangler JL|
Allen Sports has the widest selection of bike racks in the industry, and their over-the-tire style is very popular with cyclists.
Deluxe 2 is one of the best non-hitch bike racks for models like the Jeep Wrangler and Honda CRV. Two nylon straps hold your bike’s frame in plastic cradles. With 1” straps there’s enough room to hold and pull these to secure the fit.
This heavy duty rack is made from steel but the rack’s design mounts the frame entirely on the spare tire. The bottom feet rest on the sidewalls of the tire and the upper feet snugly fit onto the back of the tire, ensuring no abuse to the jeep’s trunk and paint.
Priced low, this model remains a favorite for many trunk mount bike rack experts who own a Jeep.
Loading two bikes onto the carrying arms is as easy as lifting and placing them. At full capacity, with two 35 lbs bikes, the tailgate is completely accessible and the tail lights remain uncovered.
Although this is the best pick for jeep owners, the rack is still not a perfect fit for many models. There were times where it blocked access to the tailgate, and the straps had to be undone.
It also partially covered the tail lights. The bike rack is held in place by the top and bottom feet. The straps provide tension, but the rack still manages to sway around while off-roading.
Thule Passage Trunk Mount Carrier – Best Lightweight
The second Thule bike rack for SUV on our list features a similar design to the first one. Thule trunk racks have some of the best and most secure fittings for trunk mount racks.
The Passage Trunk Mount Carrier 3 features a 6 strap tightening system for securing the rack onto the trunk.
The design is more advanced as the carrying arms can be folded down when not in use, adding to the convenience when parking in a rush or leaving it mounted overnight in tight garage spaces.
- The cradles are extremely soft protecting the bike frame and there’s soft padding that shields the car’s paint job from any scratches
- Bike rack arms easily fold down when not in use
- Bike to bike contact is prevented by anti sway functionality
- Extra detailed vinyl coated hooks eliminate scratches
|It takes about 10 minutes to install this rack and load two bikes.||Cradle positions on this SUV bike rack are not ideal for smaller bikes.|
|Rubber straps are good for cold winters and hold up in the harsh sun.||The carrying arms are too wide for kids bikes.|
|The rubber tabs flex, creating a pitch, which makes it difficult to tighten the straps.|
|Strap does not easily go over three bikes.|
Most bike racks for SUVs are hanging racks and Thule Passage is no exception. With these, the last thing anyone would want to see is their bikes dragging on the road. Thule’s 6 strap contraption gives you the reassurance to use this rack throughout the thick and thin.
There’s a two bike capacity which can be upgraded to a three bike variant of the Passage. We really liked the coated vinyl hooks that go into the trunk. They work great like the rubber cradles on the bike rack keeping them from causing any damage to your bikes.
The anti sway cradles are some of the best for a two bike rack. We had no trouble with any wobbles or shuffling during rush hour traffic.
Other features that are worth mentioning are the arms that can twist to the side when no bikes are loaded. For a bike mount rack for a SUV with 6 straps and a few hooks, this rack has a simple setup.
Rubber cradles and straps are better than nylon because they do not degrade in the sun. You should take the advertised specs with a pinch of salt because we found the 3 bike capacity was not enough to hold three full-sized mountain bikes. The carrying rack barely accommodated these, and the spacing between the bikes could damage the wheels on your bikes.
Allen Sports Ultra Compact Trunk Mount Rack – Best Ultra Compact
At under $50, this is a budget friendly trunk mounted bike rack for people who drive occasionally with their bikes. It features an unusual three foot design that rests against the vehicle. The trunk rack is extremely compact and portable and for this reason makes it to our list.
- The frame’s small size means it can fit on sedans and SUVs. There’s a compatibility page that can help you decide for your model of vehicle.
- Extremely compact and portable with folded dimensions that can fit into a bag.
|The rack is so light it can be installed by anyone and the whole operation takes 10 minutes.||The mount rack is not sturdy for heavier bikes and the bikes sway during travel.|
|It practically folds to nothing and comes with its own bag.||The nylon straps are not the strongest but they function.|
|Design is compatible with hatchbacks and the trunk is accessible.||You need extra straps to hold the front wheel and handlebars from turning.|
This is a trunk mount rack for people looking for quality and affordability. The foldable design makes it extremely convenient to carry it around to different vehicles or store in small sedan trunks.
The trunk rack can carry two bikes and weighs under 9 lbs. The rack comes with 5 tying straps that go to the sides, top, and one to the bottom.
The build quality is great for carrying lightweight bikes. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t the sturdiest bike rack and the hooks can damage the inside of the trunk if tightened too much.
Bike Rack Accessories
No bike rack will check all the boxes, but this doesn’t mean you need to compromise on a good trunk rack. There are many accessories that can make your bike rack multifunctional and adaptive to fit all your bikes.
Many bike racks cannot fit kids bikes because the seat post isn’t high enough or the top tube is too short. You don’t need to get creative with loading the bikes. The Saris Bike Beam attaches on top between the stem and seat to create a longer top tube. It is also great for touring bikes.
More often than not, you’ll need sway straps to hold your bikes. They can provide a secure fit and they work great with budget racks without anti sway straps.
You’ll need at least one good pair of pedal covers, if you intend to carry 2 or more bikes. They can protect the pedals from rubbing against the frame or contacting the chain.
Cinch straps are essential to tie down the bike frame to the rack. They keep the bike from falling or wobbling and you can replace the ones on your rack if you prefer nylon or rubber straps.
Having extra security is never a bad idea. A bike lock that can go on trunk racks is ideal for hauling bikes through longer drives. We recommend a cable lock that is long enough to pass through multiple bikes.
The type of bike rack you choose should be light, easy to install, and have the desired carrying capacity. After you’ve chosen your bike rack of choice, try to examine the rack’s flexibility, material and whether or not it fits the bill. Buying a bike rack is all about matching your available options with your purpose.
No one has a ton of storage space, so we suggest getting a hitchless bike rack that does not require extra storage space. We’ve done the research for you and tried and tested a variety of versatile trunk racks that are far superior than roof racks, if you do not have the luxury of a trailer hitch.
The Thule Gateway Pro Trunk Bike Rack is nothing overboard but meets the essential requirements. It’s sturdy, carries a large weight, and has embedded cable locks that are perfect for carrying more than 2 bikes. We endorse this product and its ability to facilitate many accessories for bike racks.
FAQs About Bike Racks
How do you carry a bike on an SUV?
Trunk bike racks are the best option for SUVs. They are sturdy, lightweight and can be folded and stored into the trunk. The rack is held by a strap system into the trunk and the bike rack holds the bike frames securely without any hitch.
Can I use a bike rack without a hitch on an SUV?
There are many bike rack types you can use, no hitch required. Roof racks, trunk racks and if you own a hatchback with a spare tire, a rear mounting rack can go over the spare tire to hold up to 3 bikes.
Do bike racks damage your SUV?
Driving on the windy interstate, off road and through stop and go traffic can add to the scuffling of your bikes against each other and the SUV. Softer padded bike racks and hitched platform racks are safe, more stable and independent of the vehicle in terms of contact.
Cover photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmizel/